Notable Historic Events
The Black Lives Matter movement has been in effect for seven years now. It’s safe to say the nation is polarized in light of the movement, but activists shouldn’t lose heart. Polarization is a defining feature of movements, and those on the front lines must have a certain measure of endurance to see it through. If you ever feel worn as a result of fighting the good fight, remember, the Civil Rights Movement lasted several years too–but look at what all it accomplished.
Slavery Abolition Act, 28 August 1833
An unstable British economy, the emergence of a new economic system, and growing slave rebellions and unrest led to the British Slavery Abolition Act. The act applied mostly to slaves in Britain’s tropical colonies and did not fully free slaves in British North American colonies. It was this legislation that made Canada free territory for enslaved American Blacks, establishing a destination for those who found their freedom.
Murder of Emmett Till, 28 August 1955
Emmett Till was a 14-year-old from Chicago who was visiting his family in Money, MS, when Carolyn Bryant, a white woman, accused him of sexual harassment. Bryant’s uncle and brother picked up Till from his uncle’s house, beat him until he was unrecognizable, and threw him into the Tallahatchie River. His body was recovered, and his mother insisted he be sent home for his funeral, which was open casket, so everyone could see the damage the men had inflicted on her son. The brutal murder of Emmett Till was one of many sparks of the Civil Rights Movement. Years later, Carolyn Bryant recanted her accusation, confessing that Till had done none of the things she’d accused him of. She stated, “Nothing that boy did could ever justify what happened to him.” Till’s murderers were found not guilty, and Carolyn Bryant never faced any charges.
March on Washington, 28 August 1963
The iconic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in Washington, D.C., where a quarter million people gathered at the Lincoln Memorial to protest racial discrimination and inequality in the country that promises liberty and justice for all. It was at the rally where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his iconic, “I Have a Dream Speech,” an address to the nation that students study worldwide today. Additionally, John Lewis, member of the Big Six and US Representative, gave his speech, “We Must Free Ourselves,” in which he asserted, “We are tired. We are tired of being beat by policemen. We are tired of seeing our people locked up in jail over and over again, and then you holler ‘Be patient.’ How long can we be patient? We want our freedom and we want it now.”
Hurricane Katrina, 29 August 2005
Hurricane Katrina barreled through the Gulf Coast and onto the shores of Mississippi and Louisiana. While it caused tremendous damage to the area as a whole, Black communities in New Orleans were most negatively affected. New Orleans is six feet below sea level. When the levees broke, people who were unable to evacuate battled with the flooding that left around 1800 dead and exponentially more homeless. The Black community was vocal about their criticism of the government’s slow response to the tragedy for those in their community. The lack of government response to cries about environmental hazards pre-Katrina was highlighted after the rage of the flood waters exacerbated the problem. Even today, the city hasn’t fully recovered. Many homes, especially in predominantly black neighbors, have yet to be rebuilt.
Obama Accepts Presidential Nomination, 28 August 2008
Harvard Law graduate and three-term Illinois State Senator Barack Hussein Obama accepted the nomination as the Democratic party nominee for the upcoming presidential election. Obama won the election and the one after that, serving two terms as the 44th President of the United States of America.
Colin Kaepernick Explains National Anthem Protest, 27 August 2016
The media began to buzz about San Francisco 49ers Quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s decision to sit during the singing of the National Anthem before football games. When asked about it, he said, “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.” His protest came in the wake of the murders of Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Freddie Gray, Sandra Bland, Philando Castile, and many other Black Americans. Soon after he began his protest, after a conversation with an Army Green Beret, Kaepernick began to kneel instead of sit during the anthem out of respect for the military. Still, he suffered vehement attacks from fellow Americans, but became a staple of the Black Lives Matter movement. He no longer plays in the NFL, but instead leads social justice work, supports causes around the world, and teaches American youth about their rights as US citizens.
Jordan Edwards’s Murderer, Roy Oliver, Found Guilty, 28 August 2018
Jordan Edwards, a teenager from Texas, was a freshman in high school when former policeman Roy Oliver murdered him by shooting into the car as he was leaving a party. Roy Oliver was found guilty of that murder, signaling a hope that police would begin to consistently be held accountable for the murders of unarmed citizens. Daryl Washington, the Edwards family’s attorney, stated, “This case is not just about Jordan, it’s about Tamir Rice, it’s about Walter Scott, it’s about Alton Sterling, it’s about every African American … who has been killed and has not gotten justice.” At the time, Oliver was only the second police officer to be convicted of murder for an on-duty shooting. From the beginning of 2005 through June 24, 2019, only four officers had been convicted of murder as a result of an on-duty shooting. Oliver is set to serve a 15-year sentence.